Destroy the Data -- Not the Device

By Carol Baroudi, Arrow Electronics
Feb 1, 2016 11:20 AM ET

Arrow | Value Recovery

Data, data, everywhere, and so little of it under our control …

As we celebrate – and I use that word loosely – Data Privacy Day 2016, I believe that we have a lot more data and a lot less privacy than we did last year.

But then I think, “What about the European Union’s new privacy legislation?” Maybe we are making some progress on the privacy front after all.

Cookies, cameras and scripts stalk our every keystroke to keep us safe and, of course, to upsell us.

What data do we have control over? We can be scrupulous about our privacy settings online, but every device we use hoards data, often in nooks and crannies we don’t know about. A smartphone, for example, holds contacts, pictures, call logs, and voice mail and text messages. It also stores information about your cellular service. It stores data in the phone itself as well as on the SIM card. Try as you might, you won’t be able to get at all the hidden data unless you’re a professional. So what should you do?

The answer is not “Smash it with a hammer!” The answer is not “Shred it!” Sure, the data isn’t recoverable, but neither is anything else, and all you will have created is a toxic mess.

Get your devices into the hands of those who can professionally eradicate all the data, fix what needs fixing, and find a new life for them. If something can’t be fixed, make sure it will go to a certified recycler who will responsibly recycle it.

As you learn where your data is accumulating, remember that a lot of it literally is in your hands. Be responsible with your data, and be responsible toward the environment at the same time.

Carol Baroudi works for Arrow’s Value Recovery business, promoting sustainability awareness and action. She is the lead author of Green IT For Dummies. Her particular focus is on electronics at the IT asset disposition stage, e-waste, and everything connected. Follow her on Twitter @carol_baroudi and connect with her on LinkedIn at